Publicly, Michael Sam has been embraced by the Canadian Football League since signing with the Montreal Alouettes. Privately, some CFL insiders seem to resent the attention Sam is getting.
Sam left the Alouettes before the start of the season and missed last week’s season opener, but he’s now back with the team and expected to take the field at some point and become the first openly gay player to appear in a CFL game. That will generate plenty of publicity in both the United States and Canada, but that publicity isn’t being welcomed by everyone.
The Winnipeg Sun‘s “CFL Blitz” item includes a series of anonymous quotes from CFL coaches and managers, and a couple of those quotes show a less-than-welcoming attitude toward Sam.
“Michael Sam hasn’t played a down of football north of the border and he has gotten a thousand times more recognition than Randy Chevrier, who won the Tom Pate Award [for outstanding sportsmanship and someone who has made a significant contribution to his team, his community and CFLPA]. That’s pathetic. You guys [in the media] should be embarrassed,” one anonymous source said.
Said another anonymous source, “Our players are saying they’re hearing Michael Sam is an American prima donna. Thought he could just show up and dominate our league. Wrong.”
Of course, it’s easy for people to rip Sam while hiding behind anonymity. And it’s something that Sam has had to put up with since he came out: Before he was drafted by the Rams in 2014, there was a spate of anonymous quotes from around the league about concerns that he would be a distraction. Those concerns turned out to be unfounded, as Sam by all accounts fit in during training camp and the preseason, although he wasn’t able to make the 53-player roster.
There’s not much Sam can do about that except play, and play well. If he starts sacking the opposing quarterback on a regular basis, he can shut those anonymous quotes up.